Legislative Drafting Guidelines

Legislative Drafting Guidelines from World Legislative Act # 17, Article 6

Act to Implement the Commission for Legislative Review

Act To Implement the Commission for Legislative Review was adopted, Noon, 25 March 2003, in Bangkok, Thailand by the sixth session of the provisional World Parliament. Amendments to Articles 2 and 6 adopted August 2004, in Lucknow, India, at eighth session of the provisional World Parliament. Attested : Eugenia Almand, JD, Secretary, Provisional World Parliament.

6. Basic Guidelines for legislative drafting:

6.01. Use short sentences if possible. Avoid conjunctions if feasible.
6.02. Avoid synonyms. If synonyms are necessary for apposition, always use parentheses, not commas.
6.03. Avoid acronyms, unless full term is so cumbersome as to perhaps cause confusion in its repetition. Define any acronym in text of bill, before first use. Spell out acronym’s first use in each article.
6.04. Use lists if there are more than four items in a sentence grouping, or when the sentence grouping may otherwise be confusing. Number lists if in the body of the legislation.
6.05. Use the active voice, rather than the passive voice. Use the present tense, if feasible.
6.06. Use neither idioms, nor slang.
6.07. Refrain from legalese if possible. For instance, use Latin terms only if necessary for concise legal clarity. Avoid wordiness (verbiage, fluff), that is, omit words that do not add meaning.
6.08. Avoid constructions that cause ambiguity.
6.09. Remember that “may” grants permission to act, and “shall” imposes duty to act, «is» defines, and «will» resolves commitment. «Must» is always joined with a negative, such as «must not» for stating prohibition.
6.10. Use full numeric codification.

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Basic Types of Legislative Proposals

Statutes – Statutes are legislation of indefinite duration that may apply either to agencies of the Earth Federation or directly to individuals.

Other world legislation – Other world legislation is also binding, but is not necessarily of indefinite duration. These other forms include various rules of procedure, spending authorizations, projects, implementation schedules and election or re-election of officials.

Resolution – Resolution is binding, but merely expresses the position of the parliament itself. Resolution can make commitment to which the Parliament members can be legally bound by the Court.

Memorial – Memorial is an appeal, recommendation or request from the Parliament to a person or deliberative assembly. Memorial does not claim any particular parliamentary or other legal authority to take action if the memorial is ignored. (This definition follows the Arizona standard, not the Oregon standard.)

Directive – Directive is a binding order from the parliament to any person or agency whatever. The parliament or its members can request enforcement actions or prosecute in world court if a directive is disregarded. (Note: Parliament must not issue any bills of attainder. That is, the parliament itself cannot order arrest or find any individual or person guilty of any crime. Those decisions would be up to the Enforcement System and the World Court System, respectively. Power of arrest of the Parliament is limited to excluding disruptive persons from the hall in which Parliament convenes.)

Summary – Summary is a shortened version of any Statute, session law, Resolution, Memorial, Directive or Memorandum. The measure summary should present a brief and impartial statement of the essential features of the measure. Summary is not an analysis. Summary should not argue for the measure’s effectiveness or its merits. A summary is optimally one-page long or less. For long legislative bills, the summary may be two pages. For English language summaries, include some notation for each article. Start each notation body with a descriptive verb. Omit articles of language (“a”, “an”, and “the”). Include the basic principle of the articles, omitting details, unless particularly essential to the legislative action. (Summary of world legislation varies from the summary defined in Oregon guidelines in that due to the novel and integrating quality of world legislation, a basic inventory of articles is needed and used to convey the essence of the articles of the world legislation. This helps to provide an overall view of the system integration of world law and international law through the process of the Provisional World Parliament.)

Memorandum – Memorandum is a procedure for the introduction of amendments to bills or legislation. Memorandum presents the immediate pertinent context from any text that is being proposed for amendment. Memorandum uses the tools of underscore and strikethrough to designate respectively new text and text proposed to be repealed or deleted. Memorandum is especially helpful in that it allows amendments to be properly considered by parliament even when the full text of the legislation might be hundreds of pages long and not convenient, efficient or possible to print together with incorporated proposed amendments for consideration by the parliament. A Summary Memorandum is a summary of a bill or legislation together with portions that are presented in Memorandum form. Full sentences may be used in the memorandum portions.

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Parts of Legislative Proposals

World legislative proposals shall always have at least three parts: preamble, enactment clause and main body of the legislation. Additionally, there may be annexes or appendices to support the legislation. The preamble describes the why for the legislative proposal, and may include references to the Earth Constitution, other world legislation, international convention law, public petitions, and scientific studies. The enactment clause is the statement of declaration by the parliament that the parliament is adopting the legislation. This may include venue and session information. The main body of the legislation is where the specific provisions are listed, included and spelled out.

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Constructions to Avoid

The word “should” moralizes. Best parliamentary practice avoids the use of the word “should” within world legislative proposals, particularly within statutes. “Should” does not impose duty to act, as does “shall“.

Phrase “shall be” is always an incorrect construction, because “shall” only imposes specific duty to act. Use word “is” or “are” to define, or use other constructive action word. Example of incorrect: “Term limits shall be five years.”

Correct examples: “Term limits are five years.” “Commissioners shall file an annual report on expenditures of the project.”

Never use word “must” to denote a positive duty to act. This avoidance increases clarity between “shall” and “must not“.

Never use term “shall not” to prohibit any action. This avoidance increases clarity between “shall” and “must not“.

Never use term “may not” to prohibit any action. This avoidance increases clarity between “may” and “must not“.

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Penal Sentencing Parameters

If there is a prohibition in any provision, list sentencing parameters in terms of the penal code classification (such as “class 1 world felony“), not in terms of any specific consequence (such as “probation up to one year in prison and fine of up to six months salary.”) Penal code schedules are listed in World Legislative Act #19. Specify a consequence immediately after any prohibition. Specify any penal code classification in parentheses at the end of the provision to which the classification refers. (This rule follows the Arizona standard, not the Oregon standard.)

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How and Why to Draft World Legislation in Full Numeric Codification

Full numeric codification means that only numerals and decimals are used in the outline style structure of new legislative code and amendments. This is very important for more than one reason: Roman numerals are not universally understood. Roman numerals, whether in capitals or in lower cases easily confuse with lettered provisions. Furthermore, virtually all languages have dissimilar alphabets and so letters are not by uniform standards translatable. (What would “II.v.i.I.x.” mean? –, or There are other possibilities just with this single referring designation.) The numerical significance of letters, on the other hand, are not easily memorized by anyone. (What number would “p” stand for? You would probably have to stop and count. Further, you would have to state whether your letter is a roman numeral or a strictly alphabetical ordination.) By using full numeric codification, the numbering system is entirely clear. There is no ambiguity. Even machine translators are able to handle the codification more cleanly than alpha-roman numerical codifications.

In full numeric codification, there is always a number only to designate the number of the article, section or item. This further makes digital codification, search and research far easier and more accurate. For numerous examples of how to number using full numeric codification, refer to full text of any world legislation, linked from the left column at the World Legislation Table of Contents webpage.

Use full numeric codification in bill drafts, including amendment drafts.

When any level of draft has more than 9 subparts, always initiate the parts with “.0” up until the 10th provision. This prevents confusion of placeholders and keys to readers that the level of the particular legislative code has at least 10 parts. Of course, omit any initial “0” if there are 9 parts or less at that level of the particular legislative code.

If a level of draft does not have at least two parts, do not number for that level. For instance, do not assign an Article 5, Section 1, unless there is also at least an Article 5, Section 2 in the same measure.

World Legislative Code has Articles, Sections, possible Subsections of various levels, and items. Each of these are designated by numbers only. For greatest clarity, list all respective levels for each provision.

An exception to the numbering rule is when preparing generally and internationally accepted international convention law for integration into world legislation. In many cases, roman numerals and/or letters were used in the initial international convention. There were not set standards of codification. In these cases, it is proper to use full numeric codification, but to follow the provision by the original codification for the respective language in parentheses, regular face type. This will help lawyers, jurists, legislators and others to relate the original convention law with the world legislation, for better understanding and for a smoother transition from the international convention regime to the world parliamentary regime. (See WLA#20, Part 2 for examples.)

To deal with Chapters or Parts from international convention law being integrated into world law.

Often, international convention law listed Chapters and/or Parts in addition to Articles, especially in cases where long lists of rules came into a convention. To aid transition from the international convention regime to the world parliamentary law regime, one may continue to list Chapter and Parts on drafts for world legislative code. However, generally do not incorporate Chapters or Parts in the listing of respective levels for each provision during the drafting (In other words, for any “Chapter 5, Article”, write simply “” before the particular provision, not “” The difference is that the article numbering within chapters and parts typically do not start from 1, but from the number of the last article in the preceding chapter or part.) After a convention bill is adopted into an act, of course, anyone would best include the chapter or part number spelled out (i.e. “Chapter Five” or “Part Five”) when referencing provisions.

Codification of preambles

If a legislative preamble contains one or more numbered lists, start each number with “0.” to distinguish that preamble list item from items numbered in the body of the legislation. (Example “0.1 Environmental conflicts, 0.2. International military conflicts, 0.4. Civil conflicts among corporations, and 0.5. Public conflicts between citizens and their respective national governments.”)

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Authority of Legislative Guidelines

The Provisional World Parliament and the Commission for Legislative Review has since 2003 been adopting as much as possible the legislative guidelines of the U.S. States of Arizona and Oregon, which have been publishing professional legislative guidelines on the World Wide Web since about 1995. These guidelines are partly language specific to English, but not entirely. (Similar but distinct guidelines are needed for each working language.) Also, there are many respects in which the Arizona and Oregon guidelines and terminology cannot be applicable at the world level, due to various reasons (One reason being that the Arizona and Oregon guidelines are not entirely consistent to each other.) However, if a drafter studies the guidelines of this IOWP webpage, and follows the primary legislative drafting guidelines as adopted by the Provisional World Parliament in World Legislative Act #17 (guidelines reposted at the top of this IOWP webpage), then one will know the basics for drafting a suitable bill. Then, reference to the Arizona and Oregon guidelines can assist in polishing the bill, especially regarding much English legislative word usage and legislative grammar (which has critically important slight differences from standard English grammar). In world legislative drafting, if there are parts of the Arizona and Oregon guidelines that conflict with the rules of this webpage, this webpage has precedence. However, the system is comparatively new. If you feel world legislation would benefit by the adoption of either Arizona or Oregon rules that are contrary to this IOWP webpage, please contact IOWP and the Commission for Legislative Review with your recommendation.

For more detailed drafting guidelines, go to Arizona Bill Drafting Manual (detailed guidelines) and to the Oregon Form and Style Manual for Legislative Measures.

Oregon Form & Style Manual is in .pdf sections: (If necessary, download Adobe Acrobat Reader.)